Today in the PEN Poetry Series, guest editor Shane McCrae features four poems by Marc Rahe. Marc Rahe received an MFA from the Iowa Writers Workshop, and his work has appeared in Gutcult, iO: A Journal of New American Poetry, jubilat, Mrs. Maybe, notnostrums, Painted Bride Quarterly, Petri Press, Sixth Finch, THERMOS, and other literary journals. Marc lives in Iowa City and works for a human service agency. His first collection of poems, The Smaller Half, was published by Rescue Press in 2010. His second collection is forthcoming from Rescue Press. About Rahe’s work, McCrae writes: “Marc Rahe is one of my favorite poets. And I don’t mean that he’s one of my favorite poets writing today, although he is, or that he’s one of my favorite poets writing in a particular way. I mean Marc Rahe is one of my favorite poets. In his first book, The Smaller Half (which you should buy and read and love, if you haven’t already) he showed himself to be a master of something very like the plain style. But there was a strangeness just below the surface of those poems, and that strangeness surfaces more and more frequently of late. Now I would say he is also a master of something I want, stupidly, to call ‘plain strangeness.’ I know, I know. But I stand by it! And this plain strangeness is so, so good: ‘I am the windows / that look out on windows.’ Marc Rahe is one of my favorite poets; and I imagine he¹ll soon be one of your favorite poets, too.”



I am the windows
that look out on windows.

I am the gaze. I am the unreal

bodies behind the drapes.

Mine is the black counter
wiped down again and again.

I am a caretaker;
I worry from afar.

I worry a sore.

do you go, after?

Between privacies is the dark
of a lock filled with key.

From inside my gem my look

is hidden, each face
familiar when facing away.


A Is for Effort

Day, you bring me the siren
held in your morning air.

I am grateful to be
inconsequential. Makers

of spell check, I was never
competent. It is the voice in

the error that speaks
loudest to me

about my character.
I am not even

here in this I. Aspirin,
with your extra eye

give me a piece.
A peace.

Sleep, please allow my ease.


How to Last

The day was dying on the couch.
The leaves of the birch were nearly

white now the sun was going down.
To discern imagination from memory

the time traveler marks X on the time-map
on the screen on the screen.

A devil was discovered in a cloud
after centuries. A dog lifted its paw.

To be thrown a stick, or
to be thrown a bone.

I could never make proof
from the given.

I take my jacket
because I need its help.


The Hungry

I could feed you, you are my target.
I rest the channel. Now it’s your story.

Due to my recliner, I have a huge mouth
that precedes me in dream. There was

an entrance and now a complex of hallways,
late papers, a haunting by a class

I failed years ago. There was an entrance
and I entered—a fresh haircut, my mother’s

spit on my face where toothpaste had been.
There had been flies on your lips on the screen

but that was before and in a place outside.
I would risk your infection for an exit.

Locked out of leaving, the clock is steady.
There is a space on the table where initials

have not been carved. Between us
is a workbook filled with blanks.